Thursday, March 10, 2011

Basic GF Cooking Tips

Recently, a friend of mine contacted me about eating GF.  At the same time I was asked to give a class on preparing GF meals for church.  The class is aimed at those who aren't GF, but may need to bring someone a meal with GF issues.  We are also addressing food allergies and diabetes and other special diets.  As a result I have been coming up with some basic GF cooking tips and thought I'd pass them along.


-You can not use any cooking ingredients that use Wheat, Rye, Barley or Oats.
     Seems silly to say if you are GF, but for the group I'm presenting to, this is rule #1, so I am adding it here.

-Thicken with cornstarch or potato flour if you need to thicken something.  Once you get in the habit of cooking GF you may find other alternatives.  These are just easy ones to start with.

-Season with herbs and spices and not seasoning packets, you can find mixes all over the internet that are strictly herbs & spices.  I usually just season by taste anymore.

-Gluten can be found in soy sauce, bbq sauce, all condensed soups, some spaghetti sauces, seasoning packets (taco seasoning, spaghetti sauce mix, dressing mixes, etc.), cold cereals, salsas, etc.  You will constantly be surprised where it will pop up.  Read labels.

-Use clean plastic cutting boards (do not use wood cutting boards, they trap gluten and can not be completely cleaned of gluten), plates, knives, etc.  If you are unsure about whether a dish has touched gluten, DON'T USE IT!!!
         -- I never set food that is GF directly on the counter. Even if the counter is clean, I can't guarantee someone didn't stick something with gluten on there when I wasn't looking.

-If you are going to make GF and food with gluten, make the GF first to avoid contamination.

-If you have any questions about whether something is GF, Google!  If you can't find the answer then call the company.  If all else fails, find something else to use.

-Casseroles are rife with gluten challenges.  Approach them carefully and be prepared to do some major adapting.  Or, like us, figure out the ones you like the best and say goodbye to the rest.  You will eat healthier, hopefully.

-Just because something says “Wheat-Free” does not mean it is GF. Newman's Own has a wheat free Oreo-like cookie that has rye -- Yep, learned that the hard way.  Luckily, my daughter didn't try if before we figured it out.

I'm sure I will add to this as I think of other things.  This is just the beginning.  If you think of other tips let me know and I will add them to the list.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Crockpot Roast with Potatoes

Last year for Mother's Day my sister was asked to speak in church on what she had learned from our mother.  My sister is a wonderful writer and has a real talent for putting her thoughts into words.  I have always admired this about her.  Anyway, the way she wrote the talk was to talk about how my mother did not necessarily preach to us, but through everyday things she taught us about life and about the importance of faith.  One of those everyday things she used as an example is making a roast.  The first step to a good roast is to heat a skillet as hot as possible and brown the roast on all sides until it is ALMOST burned.  You don't have to do it, but the roast will taste so much better if you do.  She compared this to life.  How often we have to be "burned" to learn the lessons we need to learn and to have the greatest "flavor" and wisdom.  Ever since my mother told me about the talk I can not cook a roast without being reminded of this great lesson in life.  So I am passing it on to you.

Crockpot Roast with Potatoes (printer friendly)
3-4 lb roast
1 onion sliced
 salt & pepper to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 C beef broth
4 med-large potatoes, cut into large pieces

1. Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Using tongs brown the roast on all sides until dark golden brown (almost burnt)
Looks good already doesn't it.

Even better

2. Slice the onion.  Place 1/2 the slices on the bottom of your crockpot.


3.  Add the seared roast and sprinkle with seasonings.

4. Add potatoes and remaining onions and pour over the broth.

 
5. Cover the crockpot and cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4.
6. Next remove the roast from the crockpot (leave the potatoes in to stay warm until you are ready to serve them)  to a plate and pour some of the remaining sauce over the roast and allow to sit for at least 10-15 minutes.  I always worried about this because I HATE cold food, but it really makes a difference.  The roast has a chance to cool enough to hold the moisture in, instead of it all escaping as steam when you cut it.  When you serve it, pour some more of the remaining broth over it and enjoy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snow Cone Syrup

 

Last month I taught preschool as a part of a preschool with a group of mom's.  Our topic was snow and for our treat we had snowcones.  I got a snowcone maker a few years ago and have had a lot of fun with it.  But this was my first attempt at making my own syrup.  I made the syrup the way I make my maple syrup and it turned out too thick.  That said it was delicious.  Here is the recipe with a thinner syrup.

Snow Cones (printer friendly)
2 C water
2 C sugar
Candy flavoring

1. In a saucepan combine the water and sugar.  Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 1 minute.  Remove from stove.


You can flavor the whole batch or separate into different bowls for flavoring.  Add about 1/8 tsp flavoring to each bowl.  Taste and add more flavoring as needed.  Color with food coloring if desired
I made, pina colada, lemon, and raspberry.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mexican Rice


 I'm sure I have mentioned this before, but I love Mexican food. I love the cheese, I love the spice (just not too spicy, I still want to taste my food), I love the sauces, I love salsa, I love the corn tortillas, I love the beans, I love the corn, . . . Need I go on.  Anyway, the other day I made fajitas and thought how if we were at a restaurant they would serve these with rice and beans.  So I went looking for a good Mexican rice recipe and found one in my trusty The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  With a little adapting for spiciness and lack of a few ingredients it got made and was delicious!

Mexican Rice (printer friendly)
1 can of tomatoes
1 small onion, pealed, trimmed & quartered
1/3 C vegetable oil
2 C long grain rice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can diced jalepenos
2 C chicken broth
1 T tomato paste
1 1/2 t salt
2 1/2 T dried cilantro or 1/2 C fresh
Pepper
Lime juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle.  Puree the tomatoes and onion in the food processor. There should be 2 Cups of puree. Remove any excess so there is only 2 C.
I made A LOT of this since I wanted to freeze it for later.  So you would have a lot less than this for this recipe.

2.Heat the oil on med. heat in an oven proof dutch oven or pot.  Add the rice and saute until light golden brown.  This should take approx 10 minutes (lots more if you are quadrupling it like I did).  Make sure to stir often so the rice doesn't burn.


3.  Stir in the garlic and the can of jalepenos.  Cook until it smells like garlic & jalepenos (about 15 seconds).  Add the pureed tomatoes/onion mixture, broth, tomato paste, salt and cilantro (if using dried). 

Bring to a boil and then cover and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until all the liquid is dissolved and the rice is fully cooked. Be sure to stir after 15 minutes.
4.  Fluff with a fork and add cilantro (if fresh) and add some fresh jalepenos, if desired.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

GF Bread Crumbs

I finally solved the GF bread crumb dilemma.  I know, after 3 years you think I would have figured this out before now.  But here it is.  Take Rice Chex or any other GF cereal, throw them in the food processor and process until crumbs.  Then throw in a freezer bag and freeze for later use.  Why didn't I think of this earlier?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chicken Fajitas

 

We love fajitas.  I use to use mixes, but of course, with the whole GF thing that is less of an option.  I know there are GF mixes, but I must admilt I have come to enjoy making my own.  I use a recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook which is one of my many cookbooks I LOVE.

Chicken Fajitas (printer friendly)
2 chicken breast halves, sliced about a 1/2 inch
2 T Veg Oil
2 T lime juice
salt & pepper to taste
1 med onion, sliced thin
1 green pepper, sliced thin*
1 red pepper, sliced thin*
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2-4 tsp water
Corn Tortillas
Sour Cream
Guacamole
Cheese

1. Heat a large skillet on med-high heat.  Add 1 T oil and swirl around pan.  Add chicken and salt & pepper.  Saute until cooked through and browned.  Remove to a bowl and add lime juice.  Toss to thoroughly coat.

2. In the skillet, add the remaining oil and add the onions and peppers, along with the chili powder and cumin along with salt and pepper to taste.  Saute until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add water as needed so they don't burn.

3. Add chicken and stir until it all combined and the seasoning is evenly distributed. 
4. Serve on tortillas with sour cream, guacamole and cheese and any other toppings you desire.

Santa's Workshop

This is what my parents always called their homemade projects prior to Christmas.  "I am going to be doing Santa's Workshop" was a common phrase.  Let's just say this year was big on Santa's workshop -- and I should add, low on house cleaning.  My friend Valerie once said that "you can either have a clean house or do projects, you can't have both."  While there are some that are organized enough to do both, I am not.  Anyway, on to projects, almost all are inspired or direct copies of others, my very best skill.

 I have a BIL that is an IT person so I found these phrases at ThinkGeek.com and thought they'd be perfect for them.  I then cut the vinyl with my Silhouette and put them on painted boards.  I especially love the pixels one.  Found a great dotted font and removed some of the dots.

We had a 3 year old cousin this year and when I saw this Princess in the Pea set at Sewing in No Man's Land  I knew I was making it for her.  We are also using it as a learn to sew lesson since it is so simple.  One note, don't fill the pillows too much or they don't stack as well.


I did these for my mom who decorates her Dining Room table for each month.  I this could be a fun addition.  I originally got the idea with the Along Came a Spider picture from a Halloween Print at Serving Pink Lemonade and it went from there.  Once again, I love my Silhouette.

I made one of these Menu Boards for me a while back and had a SIL and a sister that both mentioned they needed to figure out a way of doing menus so I made one for them, which was especially helpful since we had them for Christmas.

I also made them each a Family Home Evening Chart that I adapted from the Chore Chart at How Does She.


And finally, (not including the Pj's and the Christmas Dresses) I made a felt fishing set from U Create  for both my nephews and one for my 18 month old.

You'd think by now I'd be tired of sewing, but, honestly, now I just want to sew some more.  Aprons?  Cute skirts for my girls? The robes for my 2 oldest that I bought the fabric for and ran out of time to make. 

That said, before I do anything, my sewing room HAS to be cleaned!!!

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